LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles County health officials announced Thursday that select residents at heightened risk of monkeypox can obtain vaccines on an appointment or walk-up basis if they meet certain criteria — and if the shots are available.
The county this week expanded access to the JYNNEOS vaccine, but it was still limited only to people who were specifically contacted by the Department of Public Health.
On Thursday, however, health officials said eligible residents who meet a select criteria can obtain a vaccine with a referral from a health-care provider or through a self-referral to a vaccine clinic.
Those referrals are available for gay and bisexual men and transgender people with a diagnosis of rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past three months. People meeting that criteria should check to see if their health-care provider can administer the vaccine.
Qualified people who do not have a health-care provider — or whose provider does not carry the vaccine — can either make an appointment at a designated vaccine clinic or visit a walk-in location. To get vaccinated, they must have either:
— proof of a verifiable medical test result within the last three months; or
— an attestation from a medical provider confirming the person has a history of rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis from the past three months.
A list of monkeypox vaccine locations is available at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/chs/DPHMonkeypoxSchedule.pdf.
As of Thursday, there were 82 presumed and confirmed cases of monkeypox in the county, up from 60 on Monday.
Health officials have insisted the risk of infection in the general population remains extremely low.
Initially monkeypox vaccines were being offered only to residents who had confirmed contact with an existing case or who attended an event where there was a high risk of exposure. On Monday, that eligibility expanded to include:
— gay and bisexual men and transgender women who are patients of a sexual health clinic and have a diagnosis of rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past three months; and
— a limited number of high-risk individuals identified by clinical staff at Men’s Central Jail.
At that time, however, the shots were only being offered to people who were specifically contacted by the county.
Vaccine supplies remain limited, and county officials said eligibility will expand as more doses become available. The vaccine is also a two-shot regimen, so additional supplies will be used to provide second doses to those who received the initial shot.
Health officials said the infection spreads through contact with bodily fluids, monkeypox sores or shared items such as bedding or clothing that were contaminated with fluids. It can also be transmitted through saliva and sexual contact.
Most people who develop monkeypox have only mild illness that goes away within two to four weeks without treatment.
People with symptoms are urged to visit a medical provider, cover the rash area with clothing, wear a mask and avoid close or skin-to-skin contact with others.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control particularly recommends those steps for people who recently traveled to an area where monkeypox cases have been reported, or who have had contact with a confirmed or suspected monkeypox cases.
A full list of countries that have confirmed monkeypox cases is available at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/monkeypox.